[QUOTE=cmakin;167723]Yeah, but I was trying to get non oil patch feedback. Hard to do that on this forum. . . . . .[/QUOTE]
Hey I was just being a bit facetious. However, your instincts are not wrong - it is NOT a best practice. It doesn’t much interest me as an “engineering” topic of discussion. I suspect for a great many in the modern OSV / PSV or “offshore” segment it doesn’t much matter as a legitimate topic either but that is just a guess on my part.
But as far as “non oil patch” input goes, here’s some…
For me this sort of thing falls into a body of marine engineering hmm, knowledge would be too kind, more like “information” somewhere between pure apocryphal - old wives tales - and something someone heard someone else did one time that becomes credible in certain peoples minds for whatever reason. I suspect there is some of what Chief Seadog said about an emergency work around becoming the root of a common practice among a certain operator or crew. They got away with something and made a what is ultimately a poor decision. They may continue to get away with it or not.
I can’t fathom the risk/reward thought process that would result in doing this as the standard procedure for operating any engine. About the only thing I see in common between a roll of paper towels and a pleated paper filter element is that they both started out as trees. Putting that in a filter housing is well, dumb. If they were the same thing or equivalent that is what you would see when you opened a box of filters. From the absolute micron rating to the Beta rating to how it is constructed (internally / externally supported) to how it behaves when clogged to the way the filter is sealed in the housing, the risk to downstream injectors, injection pumps etc all militate against doing it.
If the brand name elements are too expensive go to one of the dozens of filter houses / suppliers and get a cheaper equivalent. They’re a commodity item now and there is competition since they make them fit each others housings for the most part.
The point you made about the water separation aspect of a Racor should not be besides the point either. Why replace a coalescer / separator element with a pure dirt filter and give up a layer of protection to the engine?
Yes the US “maritime industry” is not a homogeneous entity and even though it is made up of different segments with their own history, heritage, customs and ways of doing things, some things are universal and this idea as normal operating routine is not a good one.
It can be a short trip from “ain’t I cool look what I did with a roll of paper towels” to being the object of a cautionary tale when you lose propulsion / power and cause some damage.